1) New lockdowns loom

“Boris Johnson on Wednesday confronted the fact that his attempt to control coronavirus through a series of local lockdowns had failed across large parts of England. New restrictions were now inevitable: the only question was how far would they go? … In the House of Commons, the prime minister tacitly accepted the case for tougher restrictions, telling MPs that infection rates across cities and towns in the north of England were rising sharply, in spite of being under local lockdowns for weeks or even months… The government has been putting countries on its quarantine list when their infection rates topped 20 per 100,000. Mr Johnson confirmed that parts of the UK now had rates at least 20 times higher than that.” – FT

  • Johnson accused of dithering over airport testing – Daily Telegraph
  • Police will receive £60m cash injection so they can hire more Covid ‘cops’ – Daily Mail


  • UK ‘travel task force’ to look at cutting virus quarantine – FT
  • Herd immunity could have saved more lives than lockdown, study suggests – Daily Telegraph


  • Medical leaders warn NHS will be ‘unable to cope’ if Covid infection rates continue to rise – Daily Mail
  • Long Covid patients to be offered care in special NHS clinics – The Times
  • NHS ready to roll out covid jab from next month – The Sun


2) Local Labour leaders in the North protest…

“A group of Northern Mayors are today at war with the Government over lockdown rules – as they fight new restrictions which may close pubs within days. The leaders of Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle city councils – Judith Blake, Sir Richard Leese and Nick Forbes – joined Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson to write to the Health Secretary to say they are “extremely concerned” with the rise in cases. And they said they would not back any more economic lockdown measures which would hurt businesses. The Labour politicians wrote: “The existing restrictions are not working, confusing for the public and some, like the 10pm rule, are counter-productive.” They called for additional powers to punish those who break rules, and for new restrictions to be developed by police, council and public health experts and for a locally-controlled test and trace system instead of the national one.” – The Sun

  • Restaurants and pubs in north forced to shut again – The Times


  • Johnson must strike a ­balance between protecting lives and avoiding ­national ruin – The Sun
  • A formidable scientific case points to the social and health damage caused by lockdowns – The Times

>Yesterday: Local Government: Labour council leaders’ resistance to local lockdowns gives Starmer a dilemma

3) …and are joined by Conservative MPs

“With up to 100 Tory MPs prepared to rebel against the Government on the curfew, it means Parliament could reverse Mr Johnson’s policy. It also throws other lockdown measures, including possible pub closures, into doubt because they must also be approved by the Commons. Ministers are expected to offer Labour and Tory rebels a trade-off by promising to water down the 10pm curfew in areas that are not subject to local restrictions. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, gave a clear hint that hospitality venues in areas with the highest Covid rates will face closure, as he told business leaders that latest data on sources of infection were “not good news” for the sector… Mr Johnson had been hoping to unveil the strategy as soon as Thursday, but has been struggling to agree the plan with senior Cabinet ministers. He also faces the danger of the policy being defeated in the Commons if he does not have Labour support.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson faces ‘all-out Tory war’ – The Sun
  • Clark and Hunt will lead cross-party inquiry – The Guardian

>Yesterday: MPs Etc.: The twelve Conservative MPs who voted yesterday evening against the rule of six

4) Sunak ‘demanded clearer rules for lockdowns in cabinet clash’

“Cabinet divisions over when to trigger local lockdowns helped to delay the introduction of a new three-tier system. The overhaul, which is supposed to simplify the patchwork of restrictions affecting 13 million people in England, was due to be announced today. Details of the system were supposed to be signed off on Monday at a meeting of the cabinet sub-committee dealing with the crisis, known in Whitehall as ‘Coronavirus O’. However, Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, and his allies clashed with Matt Hancock, the health secretary and Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, over key elements. Mr Hancock has rejected “simplistic” thresholds based on infection rates, saying that concentrated outbreaks, for example among factory workers or students, could skew that measure.” – The Times

  • Fears fraud and bankruptcy will cost flagship Covid business loans scheme £26billion – The Sun

>Today: David Willetts in Comment: The Government is wrong to propose cutting back on Universal Credit while the triple lock remains untouched


5) Is Starmer now willing to move in for the kill?

“Within hours of Boris Johnson giving his Conservative Party Virtual Conference speech on Tuesday, an email was sent out by Labour HQ indicating a change in tone from Sir Keir Starmer. Calling out the Prime Minister’s “serial incompetence”, the Labour leader declared: “I’ve tried to be constructive,” before adding a long list of “buts”. Asking for money for to support Labour’s “fightback” at the next general election, the email added: “With one of the highest death rates in the world and on the threshold of one of the deepest recessions, I’m afraid there is no doubt — this Government’s incompetence is holding Britain back.” The missive marked a change in tack from an Opposition that has spent the last six months offering qualified support in the national interest.” – Daily Telegraph


6) Sturgeon shuts thousands of pubs and restaurants in ‘death sentence’

“Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of signing a “death sentence” for thousands of Scotland’s pubs and restaurants after announcing hospitality firms serving more than half the population must shut for at least 16 days this weekend. The First Minister said that all licensed premises in the Central Belt, with the exception of hotels for residents and takeaways, will be required to close indoors and outdoors from 6pm on Friday. Under Ms Sturgeon’s latest complicated set of rules, they will remain shut for three weekends until Sunday Oct 25, but this period could be extended as the end date will be kept “under review.” The tough measures will apply in five health board areas – Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – covering around 3.4 million people or 60 per cent of Scotland’s population.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Scottish pubs barred from selling booze indoors for 16 days – The Sun


  • SNP accused of ‘throwing in towel’ by axing exams in controversial move – Daily Express


  • The shine is coming off the First Minister – Iain Martin, The Times

Home Office ‘to buy two disused ferries to house migrants crossing Channel’

“Two disused ferries are set to be bought by the Home Office to house migrants. Plans leaked last week showed officials were considering using old ships, islands or even oil rigs to cope with the surge in desperate people crossing the Channel. And sources say officials have now been instructed to start talks over snapping up the ferries, which could be used as migrant-processing centres off Portsmouth. Details of the deal — which could still take months to be formally sealed — are being kept under wraps. But figures disclosed to The Times last week showed a disused 40-year-old ferry could be bought from Italy for £6million. It could house 1,400 migrants in 141 cabins… More than 5,000 migrants have arrived in small boats so far this year, more than double the number in the whole of 2019.” – The Sun

UK close to Brexit deal ‘tying it to the European Court of Human Rights’

“British negotiators are close to clinching a deal that commits the UK to remaining subject to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights after Brexit, as Michael Gove put the chances of securing a free trade agreement at about 66 percent. The UK would sacrifice a new extradition treaty and access to EU criminal databases if it quit the international agreement, under the terms of the potential deal,  Brussels sources told the Daily Telegraph. Separately David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, signalled a potential British concession over subsidy law… In a potential olive branch to Brussels, he agreed that a strong dispute resolution system for state aid, a key EU demand, could also be in the UK’s interest. In the House of Commons, Mr Gove, a Cabinet Minister, was asked if there was a 66 percent chance of a free trade deal with Brussels. “That’s about right,” the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit strategy risks UK ‘dictatorship’, says ex-president of supreme court – The Guardian
  • Johnson ready to make concessions to EU, says official – The Times


  • Downing Street ‘snubs tougher food rules’ to keep trade deals on the menu – The Times
  • Two-thirds of British voters think EU nationals should not have free movement – The Guardian

Millions of pounds worth of handouts for trade unions slashed by Williamson

“Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has enraged trade union chiefs by pulling the plug on a £12 million annual taxpayer handout. The Unionlearn scheme was set up in 1998 and claims to help train 250,000 workers every year in IT skills, maths and English. But ministers have told the Trade Union Congress that its public funding will be switched off from the end of this financial year. They insist the cash will instead go toward the Government’s new £2.5 billion National Skills Fund unveiled by the Prime Minister last week as part of his pledge to give every adult without A-levels free college courses and loans to retrain. But union bosses are up in arms, claiming the move is totally unfair and are demanding urgent talks.” – The Sun

  • Department for Education’s handling of pupil data ruled illegal – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Robert Halfon’s column: Delivering social justice means feeding children properly. We’re not doing so – and we must.

Sebastian Payne: The smashing of the British state

“According to officials with knowledge of the conversation, Prince William at first resisted losing one of his most trusted confidants, due to his own reliance on Case. Eventually though, the prince acquiesced and — much to the surprise of Whitehall — Case was appointed as the PM’s right-hand man. Little-known outside London’s circles of influence, he is now one of the most powerful people in the land. The fact that Johnson was willing to take on the future monarch when it came to hiring Case is evidence of the huge importance he pins on rebuilding the British state. After delivering Brexit, reforming the civil service is the next major mission for Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief adviser and pugilistic disrupter, and Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister overseeing the agenda.” – FT

  • Tories will pay a catastrophic price if they continue to crush the young – Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson believes faith in the nation can unite lifelong Tories and traditional Labour supporters

Labour woos rich donors after Unite cuts funding

“Sir Keir Starmer is seeking support from wealthy donors to help the Labour Party to amass a £5 million election war chest and reduce its reliance on trade unions. The Labour leader has begun a drive to increase donations and contributions from grassroots members amid threats from left-wing unions supportive of Jeremy Corbyn to reduce or withdraw their financial support. Unite, the party’s biggest donor, voted this week to cut its contribution to Labour’s coffers by 10 per cent, or just under £1 million. This followed a public rebuke from Len McCluskey, the union’s general secretary, over the decision to pay damages to former party officials who contributed to a BBC documentary about Labour’s antisemitism scandal. Having donated some £7 million to Labour since the start of last year, Unite is the largest and most influential of a number of Corbynite unions at odds with Sir Keir since his election in April.” – The Times

  • Starmer says he has ‘very good relationship’ with Unite boss – The Guardian


  • The Labour leadership should welcome opposition from Len McCluskey’s trade union – The Times

Huawei colludes with Chinese state, MPs warn

“There is “clear evidence of collusion” between Huawei and the Chinese state, MPs have said as they called for a new club of democracies to develop future technologies that are secure. The Commons defence select committee hit out at the Chinese telecoms company in a report out today on the security of 5G, the next-generation of mobile phone network. Huawei is “strongly linked to the Chinese state and the Chinese Communist Party, despite its statements to the contrary”, the report stated. “This is evidenced by its ownership model and the subsidies it has received… In July Boris Johnson announced a ban on Huawei equipment in Britain’s 5G infrastructure from 2027, a decision made after the US unveiled harsh sanctions on the company that will affect its ability to develop chips.” – The Times

VP debate: Harris and Pence clash over Trump’s coronavirus response

“Kamala Harris and Mike Pence both ducked tricky questions in a running-mate debate that was vastly more civil than the chaotic showdown between the principal candidates, but may be best remembered for a fly that landed on the vice president’s head. The nominees delivered their main attacks — Ms Harris on the administration’s “failure” to handle coronavirus and Mr Pence on her record as the “most liberal senator” — but seemed more concerned to avoid coming across as aggressive after the ugly clash in Cleveland between President Trump and Joe Biden. The result was a vice-presidential debate that, in the time-honoured tradition of the genre, is unlikely to change the course of the election with Mr Biden on an average poll lead of nine points.” – The Times

  • Trade deal with US in no doubt if Trump wins election, says commerce chief – Daily Telegraph


  • Intelligent tone should give Americans some hope for the future – Rosa Prince, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Ben Roback’s column: Vice-presidential debates usually don’t matter. Tonight’s does – because either contender could be president soon.

News in Brief:

  • The north-south split could cost the Tories their majority – James Forsyth, The Spectator
  • Is the answer to our energy needs really blowing in the wind? – Zion Lights, CapX
  • Prince Harry is royal Kryptonite – Mary Harrington, UnHerd
  • Fewer universities, more skills – Bruce Newsome, The Critic
  • Was there a conspiracy to do in Salmond? – Allan Massie, Reaction